SALIM KOUIDER-AISSA is afforded a daily reminder of his meteoric rise when he drives past his old building sites on the way to training.
And Livingston’s latest summer signing is adamant that taste of hard graft has only made him more determined to grasp his shot at football redemption.
Kouider-Aissa was working as a scaffolder as recently as two years ago after falling out of love with the game following stints with Stenhousemuir, Stirling Albion and Vale of Clyde.
“I was on a downward spiral and I stopped enjoying it,” he recalls candidly.
However, his passion was rekindled by running riot alongside his mates with his local amateur side Lenzie Thistle. A goal-laden campaign in the juniors with Kilsyth Rangers followed.
And after rippling the net 17 times for Queen’s Park last season, he has been handed a fairytale shot at the Premiership with the Lions.
It is a remarkable journey – and one which will fuel Kouider-Aissa’s work ethic.
“Just over two years ago I was playing with my local amateur team, Lenzie Thistle, and scaffolding,” he said.
“It’s funny, I drive past some of the sights that I’ve worked at when I come into training at Livingston – Harthill and Chapelhall and that is something that motivates me every day.
“I need to keep working hard otherwise one day I might be back there.
“It was tough work – brutal in a way – but at the end of the day, you got by. But it’s a job you don’t want to be doing compared to football, which is the thing you love every day. This is what you want to be doing.”
Kouider-Aissa readily admits he was not mature enough to handle the rigours of life as a footballer during his first crack at the SPFL.
He made his Stenhousemuir debut at the age of 17, such was his promise, but swiftly became disillusioned by a lack of opportunities and found that the career was not all he had hoped. It became a chore.
However, Kouider-Aissa has evidently returned to the senior ranks as a more driven, well-rounded character.
“I lost that enjoyment and football just became a habit,” he continues. “Maybe I was a bit immature and things happened too quickly for me.
“I’ve grown up and, looking back, you can pinpoint certain mistakes and see where you went wrong.
“I’ve learned from those mistakes and I’d like to think that’s the reason I’m here.
“That’s in the past now. I need to live in the present, work hard and make sure your next day is better than the one that went before.”
A season spent playing on the hallowed turf of Hampden for Queen’s Park has not left Kouider-Aissa short of role models.
The face of Scotland captain Andrew Robertson is omnipresent around the club, while the likes of Lawrence Shankland, Aidan Connolly, Blair Spittal and Paul Paton are all Spiders alumnus.
And while the notion of holding the English Premier League trophy aloft may seem fanciful, Kouider-Aissa says the one quality he does share with Robertson is an absolute desire to maximise his potential.
“The thing I’ve got in common with those players is I have a work ethic,” he added. “If you asked Andy Robertson if he’d win the Champions League and Premier League the same thing back then I don’t think he’d say.
“You just need to set yourself small targets and when you achieve those. Then don’t settle for them, get your next one.”